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IntroductionIn Manifesto for the Noosphere: The Next Stage in the Evolution of Human Consciousness, Jose Arguelles, argues that humanity stands at a critical juncture in its evolutionary path. Arguelles declares that for millennia humanity has been caught up in a "civilizational trance," one that has now culminated in a sort of technological binge. It does seem true that we have become intoxicated with our growing power to manipulate our environment, and as a consequence we have already, among other problems, created a massive and dangerous depletion of resources. Like the alcoholic, we need to get sober.
Regrettably, "getting sober" may well involve a variety of collective experiences of "descent" and the need to grieve our errors, as well as our lost dreams. What is essential for many alcoholics who are ready to kick the addiction is the definitive puncturing of "alcoholic grandiosity," combined with a sense of utter ego deflation. This problem is, of course, nothing other than the oldest tragic flaw mentioned in the ancient myths: the sin of hubris or pride, a predicament known in AA as, "self will run riot."
With the realities of the Internet, satellites, television, etc., we have entered the era of communication. In the near-term the human capacity for self-observation and self-reflection will begin to intensify. In the process, we will be faced with tremendous stress and challenge, as we are confronted with an unavoidable awareness of the problems generated by our current hubristic life orientation: destruction of the rainforests, massive species extinction, overpopulation, refugee issues, pollution, the ever-widening rift between the very rich and the poor, corporate control of governments, the potential for nuclear devastation, radical climate change and perilous resource depletion, to name a few.
Perhaps humanity will, like many addicts, only become ready to begin the daunting climb to a higher level of consciousness or "spiritual awakening" - after we have reached a very real nadir point. The ancient Greeks referred to this state as katabasis" roughly translated as "the Drop."
It seems reasonable to predict that in the next decades the difficulties we will encounter will, at many moments, seem overwhelming; there will be nowhere to escape. Caught in a web of complexity and complicity - given our unavoidable participation in society - it will seem that humanity is rapidly approaching the breaking point. Our choice will be inexorable: the world will either descend into chaos or ascend in a process of global transformation.
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